BOSTON (AP) -No one needs to tell Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis how people around here feel about his school: He saw the rivalry between Boston College and the Fighting Irish up-close as an NFL assistant with the Patriots.
``I lived in New England for nine years, and I know that there's a lot of very similar compositions in the schools,'' he said this week as he prepared for his first visit to Chestnut Hill as the Irish coach. ``I have a lot of respect for Boston College, and I know that they'd like nothing more than beating Notre Dame.''
The feeling is mutual - and perhaps even stronger in South Bend, home of the once-proud program that's lost five straight against the only other catholic school playing major college football. BC hasn't lost to Notre Dame since 2000, and a sixth victory over its more accomplished rival would even the series at nine wins apiece.
ools that have got similar tradition, similar academics,'' Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen said. ``The fans are going to be ready to go. It's going to be a tough environment, and we've just got to be ready.''
Boston College players know that Notre Dame (5-3) has big - probably bigger - rivalries with Southern California, Michigan and just about everyone the Irish play. But the Eagles (5-3) cherish their victories against a program that claims 11 national championships more than any others.
BC coach Jeff Jagodzinski prepared his team to visit South Bend last year by playing the Notre Dame fight song on a continuous loop in the Eagles' locker room. Players expected a repeat, but Jagodzinski reminded them they'd have the home crowd with them this time.
``Around here, all you need to say is, 'Notre Dame is coming to town.' It's going to be awesome, and I can't wait to get out there,'' BC linebacker Mike McLaughlin said. ``They like to say they don't think our game's as big as maybe the USC game. They play so many big games. But it's hard not to get excited when you run out on the field. I think it's going to be special for both teams.''
The football teams haven't seen such lofty heights this season.
BC rose as high as second in the rankings last year, but lost in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game and finished at No. 10. Notre Dame is coming off a 3-9 season - a school-record for losses - in which Clausen struggled; he was pulled from the BC game, which the Eagles won 27-14 to improve to 7-0.
``It's a different guy,'' Jagodzinski said. ``He's playing with confidence; he has a strong arm; he's everything they said he would be when he was coming out'' of high school.
Clausen was 23-of-44 passing for 271 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions, helping the Irish open a 17-3 halftime lead over Pittsburgh before they lost 36-33 in four overtimes. BC rallied from a 17-0 deficit to take the lead against Clemson last week before losing 27-21.
``Both teams are looking to get back on track,'' tight end Ryan Purvis said. ``I can't remember the last time we lost three in a row'' - it was 1999-2000 - ``let alone two in a row.''
Notre Dame defensive coordinator Corwin Brown said the coaching staff is to blame for some of the Irish problems, like being 102nd in the nation in tackles for a loss. But he said he was ``sick of hearing about'' it and dismissed comparisons to last year's sorry squad.
re than anything else.''
Weis feels the same way.
The former Patriots offensive coordinator made a lot of friend in the Boston area while helping New England win three Super Bowls. But don't expect him to take a victory lap when he returns to town.
``I have a lot of close friends there, and I've let them all know that I won't be seeing them because I'm not going there to go hang out with my boys,'' he said. ``I'm going there to help our team beat Boston College. That's one thing they don't get; you come into town, they figure you're just going to have all sorts of free time for them. It just doesn't work out that way.''

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